Box Hill is 19 miles outside of London in the North Downs of Surrey. You can be there in under an hour from Waterloo, bringing you in at Box Hill and Westhumble Station, where a cafe/bike shop presents you with the option to buy a flapjack and a bottle of water before you set off… It wasn’t open when we got there so I made up for it on the way back instead.
My uncle joined me this week with his dog – the half brother of my dog.
Sadly, I had to leave my puppy tending to the grumbling and hungover duvet (my girlfriend) that croaked ‘turn the light off!’ this morning at 6.45am as I was leaving.
You don’t have to walk far from the station to reach the Stepping Stones Path that leads up to the Salomons memorial view point on Box Hill.
We followed an alluring sign pointing right to the North Downs Way, but there is a more picturesque route across Burford meadow if you turn left out of the subway instead – from there you can avoid the road and walk along the bank of the River Mole to reach the famous Stepping stones.
The stepping stones had disappeared under the high water of the river so we opted for the moss and mud bridge (pictured, named).
Beyond the bridge, the path started to head up hill, and it became clear that this is a very popular place – Wikipedia reckons 80,000 people a year visit this national trust site – I reckon the churned up muddy paths are a testament to this.
Half-way up, I gave in to the urge to climb a tree and shuffled myself up into the one above – although I love the nonchalance of this picture (oh look at that – you caught me relaxing in a tree – I do all of my deep thinking up here) it’s only fair to point out that everyone looks like a bit of a dick while climbing a tree…
After another 20 minutes we reached the ‘top’ – where a stone viewpoint gives you probably the best view you’ll ever have of Dorking… yep.
The views even stretch as far as Devil’s dyke in East Sussex – 26 miles away! It’s a lovely way to see Surrey open up before your eyes, and it gave me the breather that I was hoping for – plus a tip for another place I can easily get to from London (I’m looking at you Devil’s Dyke – although, not in this picture.)
Heading up from the viewpoint, you arrive at the National Trust visitor centre, where you can pick up free maps of local walks and buy crap gifts – I didn’t.
We explored a slightly underwhelming ‘fort’ that sits beside the visitor centre and headed down the other side of Box Hill to start making our way back to the station.
On the way down, you can access the Box Hill woodland, so we opted to manoeuvre down the chalk-lined hillside, which was a lot more fun and more adventurous than the regular track. The tree’s here are really stunning and run all the way back down to the river, the only disappointing feature being the litter left over from the local kids that are clearly pretty good at lifting beers from their unsuspecting/suspecting parents.
At the river, we cut right and made our way back to the path, onto the road and back to the station to catch the train (every 28 past the hour) back to London.
This was another quick escape, taking a couple of hours to catch up with a great person and breathe in some nature and Surrey really is an area of outstanding natural beauty.